LONDON — Taiwan did not pay a penny to Papua New Guinea (PNG) the last time the two countries struck an agreement on the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 1999 that was eventually not materialized, a former Taiwan foreign minister said here Saturday.
Jason Hu, incumbent mayor of the central city of Taichung, who was Taiwan’s foreign minister from 1997-1999, said that in July 1999, the then PNG prime minister, accompanied by that country’s foreign minister, met with him in Taipei for talks on the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries.
“The talks continued for three days and at the end, the PNG officials asked for a huge amount of money as aid to the southwest Pacific island country,” Hu said.
At that point, Hu said, he told the PNG officials that “where there is money, there are no diplomatic ties.”
Hu said he told the PNG guests that if they wanted to talk about diplomatic ties, they should not talk about money — marking what he called Taiwan’s firmest and clearest stance in history on opposing “checkbook diplomacy.”
On the eve of their departure, Hu recounted, the then PNG prime minister told Hu that PNG would forge formal ties with Taiwan even if there was no financial aid.
Consequently, Hu said, he signed a communique with the PNG prime minister and foreign minister on July 5, 1999 on the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Surprisingly, the then PNG prime minister told his country’s parliament on his return to PNG that “Taiwan was willing to provide PNG with millions of U.S. dollars in return for the establishment of bilateral ties,” Hu recalled.
“Later, the then PNG prime minister was forced out of office on a parliamentary no-confidence vote and the plan to forge diplomatic links with Taiwan could not be concluded,” Hu added.